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Review–Burning Kingdoms (The Internment Chronicles #2) by Lauren DeStefano

By Megan Love Literature Art & Reason @meganm922
Burning Kingdoms (The Internment Chronicles #2)
by Lauren DeStefano
 Summary: Danger descends in the second book of The Internment Chronicles, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Chemical Garden trilogy.
After escaping Internment, Morgan and her fellow fugitives land on the ground to finally learn about the world beneath their floating island home.
The ground is a strange place where water falls from the sky as snow, and people watch moving pictures and visit speakeasies. A place where families can have as many children as they want, their dead are buried in vast gardens of bodies, and Internment is the feature of an amusement park.
It is also a land at war.
Everyone who fled Internment had their own reasons to escape their corrupt haven, but now they’re caught under the watchful eye of another king who wants to dominate his world. They may have made it to the ground, but have they dragged Internment with them?

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Source: I received a finished copy from Simon and Schuster (presumably in exchange for an honest review.)
Let me start by saying that I loved Perfect Ruin, book one, so much. I absolutely loved every inch of that book and I was dying to get my hands on Burning Kingdoms. When it showed up unexpectedly on my doorstep shortly after release, I was ecstatic. However, Burning Kingdoms suffers from a horrible case of second book syndrome and bridge book syndrome. It was so disappointing, I wish that the ending of Perfect Ruin was just that they landed and we got to wonder what would happen next. I would have been more satisfied with that open ending.
Not much happened in Burning Kingdoms, though the conflict and motivations of the King below and the resources of Internment certainly provided some questions about the fate of the characters, nothing was actually decided in this book. Some character building occurred and the characters got to understand that grass isn’t always greener on the other side, as the world below had their own set of problems and conflicts.
As always, Lauren DeStefano wrote a beautiful novel. The writing is exquisite and is something to be savored. It is a shame that such poetic words failed to move the plot. In Perfect Ruin, the magic of the world, the horror of the conflict, and the wonderful writing absolutely captivated me, but the loss of world building and the slowness of the plot hindered the sequel. It lost every bit of magic and wonder that Perfect Ruin had.
I hate to be so critical of an author and a series that has so much potential. I really do. I will probably still recommend Perfect Ruin and just pretend that it’s a standalone novel because it was really good and had a ton of elements I loved. But after reading the author’s other series since reading Perfect Ruin and then reading this disappointing book, I have to admit that I’m sensing a trend. The author writes beautifully and I see the parallels to our world, the points she’s trying to make, and the issues she’s trying to bring to light in the book that are important in the world. The potential is tremendous and I applaud her efforts. However, her books tend to unravel, drift, and take weird turns. The result is a story that isn’t quite hard hitting and doesn’t make much sense at all.
Perfect Ruin managed to maintain it’s world building as Internment sat away from anything we were familiar with, having just a few minor unrealistic plot devices, but the rest of her books have contained weird out of place events, items, or other aspects. Burning Kingdoms contained a world that I’m still trying to figure out where kings, speakeasies, silent movies, and mermaids all exist without any explanation. It probably would have made more sense for them to have landed in our 1920s, but then the author would have had to research history in order to weave the story in with the events and somehow explain the existence of the floating city. The more I try to reason a better way for Burning Kingdoms to have gone, the more I think Perfect Ruin should have just ended and remained isolated in a fantasy world. *sigh*
I’m still holding out hope that the next book will be more action packed and move the story along better. I would be a lot more optimistic and less critical of this sequel had I not read The Chemical Garden Trilogy and been able to notice the unfortunate similarities and the things that don’t make any sense. I don’t know that I’d recommend reading this one, but I don’t necessarily advise against it, either, because I did enjoy the writing quite a bit. If you have the capability of suspending belief and can live with the fact that the sequel only moves the plot a little bit, it’s a great read.

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